Tag Archives: family stuff

Making memories that will last a lifetime (or at least until they can afford therapy)

It started with a wish. A wish to celebrate my precious first born finishing nursery and getting ready for big school. I’ll take him out for the day, I thought, and make some magical memories to show how proud I am of the kind, funny child he has become. I spotted a half price online ticket deal to Groombridge Place, and when I realised that under-3s go free I factored Baby Bones into the equation too. It will be wonderful, I thought. Even though thunderstorms are forecast, we will have an amazing time. We’ll marvel at nature and turn over leaves and dash through rain showers and I’ll even get someone to take a picture of the three of us so that I am in a bloody family photo for once.

Today was that day. Here is what actually happened: PFB son started moaning halfway through the hour long drive to get there, and carried on for most of the trip (are we there yet? It’s taking aaaaaages. I’m just hot and thirsty and I want to get there. Why are you telling me off? I was just…ufff. I want to go home!) PMS me defaulted instantly to pissed off. The peacocks on the lawn, the hawks flying to command and the beautiful ornate gardens were mere backdrops to our hissed disagreements and the occasional ringing sound of a cast iron bollocking. No thunderstorm, but a sticky heat that bore down on us all like a fat man in a bad suit. Toddler daughter was cheerful, but her adamant refusal to rest little legs in the pushchair grew a bit tiresome after the fourth or fifth mile of walking. The high point of excitement for PFB was getting to use his new lunchbox. Which was, admittedly, gratifying, but we could have done that at home and saved eight quid.

Is it me? I wondered, head in hands, as I tried to explain for the sixth time that no, I couldn’t play Swashbuckle while trailing a snail’s-pace toddler around a two storey wooden climbing frame. Am I doing it all wrong? Where is the magic I so hoped to create? As someone whose own lovely, magic-making mum carked it long ago, my first worry is always ‘how do I know if I’m getting it right?’ How do you know if the memories they’re making are the kind you want to hang onto?

I welled up a little hearing my son make friends with another small boy and tell him all about our family, my sentimental heart clutching at how quickly he is growing up. But then I passed a couple of stony-faced South African mums barking ‘all you’ve done from the minute we got here is complain’ in the direction of their sullen offspring and was reminded that actually, kids of all ages are a pain in arse quite a lot of the time, and that’s ok. Hell, it’s normal. Being bollocked for arselike behaviour is also normal. How else does one learn not to be an arse?

And then we caught the boat back to the cafe and I received a lovely compliment from the boatman about my tattoo (‘it looks like someone’s taken a watercolour brush to you!’ Thanks, lovely and peerless Hannah Aitchison). I drove us home in a kind of cold beer tractor beam, propelled only by the throbbing image of refrigerated ale. I shooed two hot, dirty children into the knackered arms of Mr Bones, who had only just finished cleaning the paint off himself after a long day’s decorating. And PFB son, the moaning wonder, ran straight in to say ‘hey dad, I had a GREAT time today! I saw lots of animals, I climbed on a pirate ship, and we went on a boat! And I used my lunchbox and had my own lunch!’

I guess they make their own memories.


5 minutes away from covering myself in embrocation

It’s the only solution to this intense cold.

Honestly, why did we ever rent this house? The cold reaches out from the cellar and wraps itself around your toes; it seeps through the window glass and sinks into your bones. It’s actually colder inside the house than it is outside a lot of the time. And when you pass the stairs to the attic on your way to your nice cosy bed (the only haven of warmth in the whole place) you can feel an icy draft either sucking upwards as every scrap of heat is dispersed through the poorly-insulated loft conversion, or gusting down into your shivering, despondent face like sarcastic laughter. This house bullies you with the cold. Mr Bones and I spend our nights huddled on the settee, blank-faced and bitter. And forget warming up with a shag – nothing is as unsexy as stripping off in zero degree temperatures. I’ve been sleeping in a jumper every night this week. If the snow continues I may graduate to a coat and gloves.

Curious things are afoot in our lives at the moment; we’re planning a move back down south after spending four years living in the Midlands and it’s stressfully exciting. Mr Bones is in pursuit of a job, being currently in a state of suspense over the outcome of two interviews he had last week. That’s true dedication to family life: my heart swelled with pride as he trudged out of the house on Tuesday morning looking like an Arctic explorer, managing to get down to and around the big town without incident on a day when the news was full of ‘travel chaos’. Meanwhile Baby Bones and I spent a second day admiring the weather from the tropical climes of the duvet. How fortunate I felt.

Of course, by the start of a housebound Thursday my attitude was rather different and I probably would have run naked into the slush if it meant getting a break from being trapped indoors. Thankfully on Friday, just as cabin fever was settling in, a friend texted to say she was going mad and did anybody want to come over for tea and sanity? Spending the day with other mums (and letting our babies hang out with each other) was good for all of us. Baby Bones stopped looking at me with that eye-rolling ‘not you again’ glaze; I stopped tearing out what little hair I have left.


Yesterday I had an odd moment. I was dancing Baby Bones around the living room to the sound of disc one of Aerial, and towards the end he nodded off in my arms. This left me alone to listen to ‘A Coral Room’, the final track, one that always makes me cry. Only this time I didn’t cry. I had a sudden warm wave of remembering that I love my mum, despite what she did. It was weird but kind of nice. I’ve been angry with her for so long, I had forgotten what it felt like.

Then again, motherhood is just one big emerald sea of sentiment. This morning I welled up midway through singing along with Leona Lewis’s cover of ‘Run’, ffs. After so many years of ruthlessly guarding my softest parts, it’s quite bizarre to find them so close to the surface. I can only hope this proves useful once I start bereavement counselling, otherwise it’s a lifetime of crying at RSPCA adverts and uplifting local news items for me. Not that I do that now, you understand.